England comes to Laroque d’Olmes

Yorkshire Dales: as interpreted by the children at the Centre de Loisirs, Laroque.

Yesterday afternoon was the best fun.  20 odd-children (that’s ‘about 20 children’, not ‘Twenty Odd Children’) here in Laroque spent the day in England, courtesy of  ‘Découverte Terres Lointaines’,  without setting foot outside town.

These children spend their Wednesdays, a no-school day, at the Centre de Loisirs.  Their parents are probably out at work, and here is somewhere they can spend the day having purposeful fun, without its costing their parents too much.

We turned up with bag full of groceries, and spent half the morning baking biscuits, basic English everyday crunchy biscuits.  It was great to see them, girls and boys alike carefully measuring out flour, sugar, butter and so on, stirring, mixing, watching a dough come together from these simple ingredients.

Let the baking begin.

A bag full of cutters and a rolling pin meant that they could transform the mixture into stars and circles, miniature gingerbread-style people, bells and flowers.

Upstairs, another group had been talking about the green moorlands of the Yorkshire Dales, then making a mural of a Daleside landscape, complete with Swaledale sheep, farm gates, and obligatory grey cloud (it’s England after all).

Lunch break.  Afterwards, the children came to see our long-prepared exhibition looking at North Yorkshire, which has so many features in common with the Ariège: mountains (OK, the best Yorkshire can manage is Whernside’s  736 metres.  Ariège’s Pic d’Estats is 3143m); textile and mining industries past their glory days; wide open spaces home only to sheep…. and so on.  They enjoyed an extract from Roald Dahl’s ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’, and then it was back to the Centre de Loisirs.  Where we produced a long skipping rope with the idea of teaching them a couple of English skipping games…

‘I like coffee, I like tea

I’d like, er, Nadine, to jump with me’.

Getting started with skipping.

They loved it.  Unfortunately they couldn’t skip at all and tripped and fell all over the place, and all the adults mourned that it was a lost art. As in England (Is that so?  Not sure.) children don’t skip any more.

Back into the kitchen, it was time to decorate those biscuits.  They tinted their bowls of icing in lurid shades, and made free with all the sugary decorations we provided.  ‘Glorious Technicolor’ doesn’t begin to do it justice.  Once decorated, they ate the lot, and we sent them off to their parents for the evening crammed full of enough e-numbers to see them through the week.  One lad, as he set off home, was heard to say ‘I’ve had a great day’.  So had we.

Glorious Technicolor biscuits.

14 thoughts on “England comes to Laroque d’Olmes”

  1. Sounds like everyone had a fab time and I could recognise the Dales. E Sussex has much in common with the Ariege as well but poorer road infrastructure. I’ve always thought of the South Downs as the Dales with sea at the edge.

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  2. how lovely – it’s great to see young people take pleasure in things we take for granted but which so few of them seem to experience in the digital age. Inspirational stuff!

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    1. Actually, I was surprised at how many of them, boys too, were quite experienced cooks. Some of them could even break eggs open with one hand! But it was a great day , with not a gadget in sight.

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  3. How lovely! Do young French children do any ‘cookery’ at school? I used to run an after school cookery group for Juniors in Harrogate and we used to have great fun! Rolling out pastry and dough never loses its appeal, plus there’s the excitement of eating something you’ve made from scratch. Or making mum and dad eat it……………
    Breaking eggs with one hand – wow!

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    1. You kept that dark! I’d have loved to have been involved. Nope, as far as I can see no cookery. Keep focussed and get on with the curriculum as far as I can see. And shout a lot at the children

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  4. Intrigued as to why French children can’t skip? It was a long time ago but I’m sure I remember doing something called ‘French skipping’. Not to be confused with French knitting which for some reason involved a cotton reel and four nails!

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    1. The question is though, can English children still do so? My younger daughter, who’s only 23, definitely skipped at school. French skipping? No idea, but ah, French knitting. I remember it well. Whatever were you supposed to do with those garish worms of wool that emerged from the cotton reel?

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      1. I think you were meant to coil them up and stitch a rug! French skipping was when two people stood facing each other, about 2 metres apart. You then had a giant band made from knicker elastic round your ankles and someone jumped about in the middle. If they were good you could move the elastic up to your knees. It was tricky and I was hopeless.

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